St. Eunan’s proved too strong in the all-Donegal Colleges All-Ireland quarter-final in Fr. Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.
St. Eunan’s, Letterkenny 1-11
Colaiste na Carraige 0-7
The physically stronger St. Eunan’s side as well as a superior bench were factors in the result, which was never really in doubt after Niall O’Donnell drove home the only goal of the game in the 27th minute.
The Letterkenny side were on top in most areas of the field and it is to the credit of Colaiste na Carraige that they remained in the contest until the final ten minutes when St. Eunan’s tagged on four late points.
Daniel Clarke was a dominant figure around midfield; Conor Morrison and Conal O’Boyle impressed at the back while up front the front three of Niall O’Donnell, Sean Hume and Daire McDaid always threatened.
St. Eunan’s were against the strong breeze in the first half and would have been very happy with their half-time position, leading 1-4 to 0-5.
Ryan Gillespie had Colaiste na Carraige on the board inside 40 seconds but they struggled to get enough possession around midfield, living off scraps.
Aodhan McGinley added a second from a free after Conor Doherty was fouled on eight minutes, but then St. Eunan’s hit three on the trot in a six minute period between the 9th and 15th minutes - the impressive Sean Hume getting all three, one from a free and two from play.
Colaiste na Carraige hit back with Padraig Byrne launching a great point from 50m and Conor Doherty pointed a free to edge his side back in front. Doherty then missed a 30m free.
However, the vital score of the half came three minutes from the break when Sean Hume did very well to win possession and he was very even quicker to see Niall O’Donnell in space. His lovely hit pass over the top put O’Donnell through and he fired to the roof of the net.
Philip McNern had a Carrick point and Conor O’Donnell was denied at the expense of a ‘45’ before Daire McDaid completed the scoring, converting a free in added time.
Hume from a free and from play after an untypical Carrick turnover, stretched the St. Eunan’s lead to four points within five minutes of the restart.
Padraig Byrne, taking over the free-taking duties, hit one of only two Colaiste na Carraige second points, on 42 minutes. The Carrick school’s short passing game suited playing against the wind, but the St. Eunan’s side were able to get a hand in and the ball was turned over on quite a few occasions, something which the Carrick boys were not used to.
Rory Carr, with his first touch after coming on as a substitute, had a point on 47 minutes, while Byrne pointed after Andrew McClean was fouled.
Carr was involved again as he found Sean Hume who was denied a goal by a great block by Christopher Byrne at the expense of a ‘45’. From the ‘45’ Hume hit his sixth point of the game.
Padraig Byrne was wide from a free before St. Eunan’s added three points in the final three minutes from Niall O’Donnell, Daniel Gillespie (with some Kilcar blood in him) and Daire McDaid.
The final scoreline was probably fair enough. Andrew McClean and Ryan Gillespie, in particular, never gave up for the losers with Jamie McGinley, Christopher Byrne, Pauric Ward and Aodhan McGinley also performing well. They missed a couple of frees, which they will regret, but overall the Letterkenny college were very worthy winners and will look forward with some hope to the All-Ireland semi-final.
Colaiste na Carraige: Michael Cunningham; Christopher Byrne, Jamie J McGinley, Conor Kennedy; Cormac Cannon, Pauric Ward, Philip Doherty; Padraig Byrne (0-3,2f), Ryan Gillespie (0-1); Paul Doherty, Pauric Cunningham, Andrew McClean; Conor Doherty (0-1,f), Aodhan McGinley (0-1,f), Philip McNern. Subs., Martin Byrne for P Doherty ht; Paul Doherty for Byrne inj 48.
St. Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Conor Morrison, Darragh McWalters, Conal O’Boyle; Darragh McMonagle, Conor O’Donnell, Sean McDonagh; Jordan McBride, Daniel Clarke; Cormac Callaghan, David Tyrell, Oisin Carr; Niall O’Donnell (1-1), Sean Hume (0-6,2f,45), Daire McDaid (0-2,1f). Subs., Rory Carr (0-1) for Callaghan 47; Michael Miller for Tyrell 49; Daniel Gillespie (0-1) for Hume 57; Cormac Cannon for McDaid; Oisin Shiels for N O’Donnell, both 61.
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)